No laughing matter

A Bill will be presented by a French MP to restrict the use of nitric acid or ‘ laughing gas ‘. She wants the gas to be put on the narcotics list banning it for sale to the under 18s.
Laughing gas is freely available and is said to be one of the legal ‘ highs ‘ available to anyone. It is now used by young children as well as older kids and young adults and is causing concern to parents and society in general.
Seems an intelligent move to me.

Do you mean nitrous oxide?

It’s this era’s equivalent of sniffing glue or huffing paint.

Sorry , yes Guy.

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Yes, my chemist brain jumped at the notion that people might be sniffing nitric acid fumes !
I was surprised to learn that Nox is even available through retail outlets to Joe Public. About time for this kind of legislation then.


But you still can’t by an aspirin or paracetemol over the counter!

Back in a mo, I’m just popping down to the Chemist’s…

Obviously you can in a chemist, that is the whole point, purchase is restricted to pharmacies!

I bought paracetamol over the counter at my local pharmacy, if that’s what you mean. All strengths are the same price, 2.18€. When I asked for 200mgs [the strength one can buy off the shelves in UK supermarkets] the chap laughed and said “200 mgs is for children”

Ask Michel Leclerc to complain some more to the government, we might get there in the end.

Have you been out of the UK for a while?

Standard adult tablets are 500mg, the only other tablet formulation is, indeed, aimed at kids and is an “orodispersible” formulation with 250mg otherwise kids formulations are normally suspensions. I don’t think there’s ever been a 200mg tablet in the UK.

No it is not what I mean.

Then what do you mean? Or is this a guessing game?

You asked a question and I have answered it.
It is quite obvious that you cannot go into a supermarket or other type of shop and buy over tghe counter painkillers as you can in UK.

I must be thinking of ibup.

Both are available ‘over the counter’ at my pharm but this ‘over the counter’ is apparently not the ‘over the counter’ J. Williamson means.

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Yes, that would fit.

What Jane means is you can’t buy them except in a pharmacy where obv you can get them without a prescription ie ‘over the counter’ but not in other shops eg supermarkets.

Given that paracetamol poisoning is a particularly unpleasant method of suicide the inability to buy at your local supermarket is a benefit. Yes I know that you can go to multiple pharmacies but doing that just to garner the means to unlock the exit door seems to be a bit of a fag. Restricting sales to pharmacies helps keep a valuable local service going.


It’s readily available in large cylinders (usually branded “NoS”) for use in high performance vehicles, but has additives (sulphur?) to help combustion and make it extremely unpleasant for humans to inhale.

The problem is the small cylinders of food grade nitrous oxide intended for use with cream whippers etc. They need banning or restricting to adults/catering trade only.

I know a lot of people complain about the restrictions that the pharmacies have negotiated, which prevents supermarket completion. But I think it is a good thing. Pharmacies are often the core lifeblood of a village and if they go, everything else goes. So I’m happy to use less paracetamol and have to buy iy at a higher price than loose our pharmacy and the jobs that go with it.


Precisely Jane. France is a much more highly regulated business environment than the UK - that’s one of the big reasons it’s a nicer place to live.
You just have to ask yourself which you prefer - the friendly pharmacy we have in every village, protected by regulations, or a couple of cents off paracetamol in some out-of-town shopping wasteland?

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